law and custom

mixed media triptych 8.75″ x ll” closed, 8.75″ x 22″ open. Components found in India.
The text, which is below, refers to the status of women in India.


THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT OF 1961 abolishes giving and taking dowry, (a valuable property or thing which is given by the brides family to the groom), at the time of marriage.

In the First International Conference on Dowry and Bride-Burning in India held at Harvard University in 1995, Rani Jethmalani and Subhadra Chaturvedi, who practice law at the Supreme Court of India, stated that the government statistics are a result of gross under-reporting and the actual “unofficial” number of dowry death in India is between 12,000 and 13,000 every year. An equal number of brides are beaten so mercilessly that they become invalid for the rest of their lives. That makes an estimated total of 25,000 brides “killed or maimed” every year in India over dowry disputes.
Himendra Thakur, Chairperson, Board of Directors,
International Society Against Dowry and Bride-Burning in India, Inc. (ISADABBI)


THE SUPPRESSION OF IMMORAL TRAFFIC IN WOMEN AND GIRLS ACT OF 1956-57 deals with prostitution and the welfare of fallen women. Every state is expected to appoint women police and social workers and set up protective homes where women will be given trainingso that they may earn a livelihood

Probably more than a million women and children are employed in India’s brothels. Twenty percent of Bombay’s brothel population, estimated at 100,000, is thought to be girls under the age of eighteen, and half of that population may be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). They are subjected to conditions tantamount to slavery and to serious physical abuse. Held in debt bondage for years at a time, they are raped and subjected to other forms of torture, to severe beatings, exposure to AIDS, and arbitrary imprisonment. Brothels are tightly controlled, and the girls are under constant surveillance. Escape is virtually impossible.
Human Rights Watch Vol. 12, No. 5, October 2000

Chatterjee (1990) estimates every sixth infant death is due to gender discrimination. Of the 15 million girls born in India each year, nearly 25% will not live to see their 15th birthday.

A daughter is viewed as a liability, and is conditioned to believe that she is inferior and subordinate to men. Sons are idolized and celebrated. “May you be the mother of a hundred sons” is a common Hindu wedding blessing.

The origin of the Indian idea of appropriate female behavior can be traced to Manu in 200 B.C.: “In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.”

Also related to this trip are three series of work, Jewel, Passages and Reflective Visions, and the books India , many truths and Guardians.